Soul Pursuits

Official Blog of Visionary Author Lianne Downey

Archive for

5 Lessons from Hawk Totem: The Harriers Who Live Here

Posted on June 22, 2017

For months now we’ve been learning from a pair of Northern Harrier hawks nesting near our three townhouse balconies, which overlook the San Diego River Gorge. Hawk totem. Teaching us how to be fierce in our commitments.

Whoosh! I was standing on the small balcony outside our bedroom when from behind the wall on my left swooped a v-shaped pair of grey wings that soared up into a tall eucalyptus, about four trees to my right. A few minutes later, I could see him soaring back with a stick held perpendicularly in his beak like a trapeze artist’s balancing bar, longer than his body length. It was early March, nesting season.

How can he fly with that thing? I wondered. He landed in another eucalyptus just off our port bow, a few yards away.

Hawks tend to surprise me. I think of them as flying miles above, soaring on the air currents. But I’ve also had the startling realization that one was sitting on the fence four or five feet away, watching me water the garden bank long before I noticed his magnificent presence. Only then did he choose to open his wings and veer away, slipping easily into obscurity among the back yard tangles of suburbia.

That was two houses ago, and a different species. He taught me to Pay Attention.

Hawk is one of my totem animals—a messenger who speaks to me of things I might be neglecting or forgetting. If you’ve read my post about rabbits, or beetles, you know that I believe animal encounters relate to our current state of mind and body. They are not as random as we might think, and they almost always have something to teach us about our life at the moment.

+Read more

Ballroom Tales: Dancing Our Love Story

Posted on April 1, 2017

You could say that Joseph and I fell in love over a video cable. This lifetime, anyway. That was back in the 80s, when video cameras still needed cables and had to be pushed around on heavy tripods. Sometimes we were so busy chatting away behind those big cameras, we didn’t hear what shots the director was ordering. Oops.

We haven’t done much video work since then, but now we’ve plunged ahead on a Ballroom Tales project that’s very close to our hearts. We’re producing a short dance film, our own love story, many lifetimes long, told through music and movement. If all goes well, this may become a trailer for my new book, Past Life Lovers, Friends, and Enemies (coming soon).

Foxtrot, Anyone?

Okay, maybe we’re fictionalizing our story a little here and exaggerating a little there. Like the real-life stories in my book, ours is a tale of many lifetimes. To tell it through dance and fulfill our vision means that first, we have to conquer the ballroom moves required!!! That’s, um, only six dance styles (so far).

So we’ve hired actor/choreographer John Selby, who helped choreograph a routine for Lance Bass when the former *NSYNC member appeared on Dancing with the Stars. John has also won many impressive awards as a professional dance competitor. He’s a terrific teacher.

For fun, Joseph and I started our dance habit in 2000 with some old-school salsa classes. We moved on through other Latin dances, Argentine tango, and then ballroom. Typically, we learned a lot of bad habits, had a lot of fights, and suffered too many injuries from poor technique. John has been sorting us out and we’re excited to be working with him!

And What About That Concrete?

Neither are we sure how to solve all the production dilemmas yet, considering that it’s going to happen outdoors in a public setting. We might have to pillage the local community college to find some talented crew who’ll volunteer for the fun and experience.

Still, we’re having way more fun than going the usual competition route (which is what most ballroom students do). We are creating a moving painting. We are making Art with our movement, locations, costumes, music, and story. No words, simply dancing! Quite frankly, I think we’ve watched too many Bollywood movies, but we’re committed now.

Here’s a clip of John at work. Every great adventure begins with the first steps, right? Follow me on Instagram for more behind-the-glamour posts in the coming weeks.

Book Review: “The Five Elements” by Dondi Dahlin

Posted on January 24, 2017

The Five Elements: Understand Yourself and Enhance Your Relationships with the Wisdom of the World's Oldest Personality Type SystemThe Five Elements: Understand Yourself and Enhance Your Relationships with the Wisdom of the World’s Oldest Personality Type System by Dondi Dahlin
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

For years I’ve been struggling with the notion that I am supposed to be, in the ancient Chinese “five element” system, an Earth element (or rhythm) person. This was indicated by a quick muscle test method that should have worked.

I hated the idea. I kicked and screamed over it. How could I be?? But by others I was convinced. Still, I don’t have children and never wanted them: I’m not the “earth mother” type that’s sometimes described for Earth element people, but I do like to encourage people to become their best selves through my books and healing practices. Is that nurturing? And I have suffered from uterine fibroids, a typical Earth rhythm ailment, making me (when younger, before they shrank a bit) look like a Mother Goddess statue from antiquity, as one young man pointed out. So I’ve been living under this idea ever since, reluctantly.

Well, this book has liberated me!! I am ecstatic! The thorough descriptions helped, but more importantly, the comprehensive self-tests, questionnaires, and checklists nailed it. I took the tests, read the descriptions, and was able to definitively declare that my rhythm–my true, happy, quirky self–moves first and primarily in the flow of Water, and shockingly next with the stomping confidence of WOOD! (secondary rhythm), followed by the enthusiastic combustion of Fire (tertiary or third rhythm), with only the occasional drift into the deep compassion of Earth nurturing (fourth).

I’m still reading and absorbing the wonderful stories from the author’s colorful life as belly dancer, actress, mother, and daughter of a world-famous healer (Donna Eden). And I haven’t yet made my way to the rich storehouse of info about children’s rhythms. But I now know why I have always walked like a Wood (not an Egyptian).

I thought I simply learned that from my mother, who loved to start wordy, shouting fights. She was the Wood, thought I, trying to force myself into the “Earth” mold years ago. (That takes on new meaning — earth mold — but that is indeed how it felt to put myself into the wrong psychological box, moldy!!) I am not one who backs down easily, and I will always speak up for my rights, or others’. It’s odd because I love to dance, and my kinds of dancing are graceful, not stomping. But moving off the dance floor? Stomp, stomp, stomp. Haha! Wow, even my secondary element explains so much about who I am. I’m so grateful to this book!

Understanding that Water is my primary way of relating to and moving in the world has answered so many other questions and dilemmas for me. I feel like someone opened my cage and said, “Yes! Be yourself! It is a very legitimate way to be! You are not crazy! You simply move through life in a way that others may not.”

Second to understanding myself is the breaking light of “Ah ha!” regarding friends and family. “No wonder!!” I keep exclaiming. I will be forever grateful to Dondi Dahlin for sharing her own stories of discovery and for completing the painstaking work to accurately depict the Five Elements of ancient tradition. And to come up with self-tests that have proven, in my experience, far more effective than taking someone else’s word for it.

If you love to discover what makes your own heart tick, you’ll love this book!

View all my reviews